Saturday, January 2, 2010

Rayboy's Review: Fall Of The Hulks - Alpha

Fall of the Hulks: Alpha focuses on a gathering of some of the greatest minds in the Marvel Universe. This set up issue for the “Fall of the Hulks” event reveals that this auspicious grouping of super-brains has been quietly pulling strings behind the scenes for many years, and nobody has been aware that they even existed. If you are thinking of the Civil War-related pairing of Reed Richards, Tony Stark, Stephen Strange, Black Bolt, Namor and Charles Xavier as the Illuminati, you would be dead wrong. This group is comprised of super-villains like The Leader, Doctor Doom, Egghead, The Red Ghost, The Wizard, M.O.D.O.K. and The Mad Thinker who are collectively known as the Intelligencia (or ‘Intel’ for short).

This nefarious brain trust has been secretly carrying out clandestine missions to acquire arcane knowledge, weapons and technology to utilize against their arch-rivals and to facilitate their devious ends. Together their powerful minds have allowed them to use a temporal shifter to gain access to a hidden Antarctic base of the Eternals. There they abscond with most of the contents of the ancient library of Alexandria, which the Eternals had originally salvaged from Caesars fire. Throughout this issue, the Intelligencia ransack troves of knowledge from locations as diverse as Atlantis and Wakanda in their quest to rule the world.

The narrative of this issue is told from the perspective of classic Hulk foe, The Leader, who serves as the groups’ primary voice. Before the issue runs its course, readers are shown how the Intel have orchestrated the rise of the Red Hulk (or ‘Rulk”, as he has come to be known) and been behind numerous super villain resurrections over the years in order to stymie their heroic counterparts. Other Marvel Universe developments in which they’ve had a hand include inadvertently luring the Beyonder to Earth and also unleashing the Venom-symbiote upon the world.

This chapter is nicely written by Jeff Parker and illustrated by Paul Pelletier & Vicente Cifuentes. Pelletier is one of the very few artists working at Marvel whose work evokes the classic style of the House of Ideas without seeming "too retro" to alienate those fanboy posers who prefer more ‘grim & gritty-style’ stuff. I do miss having Pelletier’s usual inking partner, Rick Magyar onboard, but Cifuentes finishing work here doesn’t drop the ball at all. He quite effectively brings out the same level of excellence in Pelletier that fans are accustomed to by the penciller of the recent War of Kings mini-series.

I can’t stress just how cool it is to see this group of classic Marvel villains thrown together as a team (this dynamic works even better than what was done with the Illuminati), and what they have perpetrated behind the scenes, albeit unknown to us until now. There is still much to be revealed and even more stuff that I haven’t touched upon from this inaugural issue. Pop on in to the shops and see if they have any copies left, because this one is apparently selling out fast.

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